A new research has shown how mosquitoes track down the targets through a three-step process. Biologists from the University of Washington discovered that mosquitoes relied on their senses to find the host through three steps.
First, they pick up a scent as much as 30-feet away, follow a visual cue and once they are close enough, they can sense the body heat. Co-author of the study Jeff Riffell explained that the scent alerts mosquitoes to the proximity of the potential target is not that of blood, but of carbon dioxide, the gas we exhale.
The team discovered that mosquitoes were attracted to anything that gave off carbon dioxide as they were attracted to a dot at a center of a location, where scientists were releasing carbon dioxide.
“Very little was known about what a host looks like to the mosquito and how a mosquito decides where to land and begin to feed. They start using vision and other body odors to discriminate whether we’re a dog or a deer or a cow,” said Riffell.
The scientists also found that adding heat to the black dot increased their attraction to it. Riffell said that very little was known about what a host looks like to a mosquito and how a mosquito decides where to land and begin to feed. These findings could play a great role for scientists to figure out better methods to fight mosquitoes that can carry bacteria to humans.
However, Caltech researcher Floris Van Breugel stated that the evade the annoyingly robust senses of mosquitoes, people would have to capture the CO2 that they are breathing out, dress visually camouflaged, and use another person as a distraction. He added that the unfortunate conclusion is that it’s very difficult to evade mosquitoes. The study could definitely pave a way for preventing mosquitoes in the future. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
These results were published in a paper titled “Mosquitoes use vision to associate odor plumes with thermal targets.”[ Via ]